Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Book Review: The Case for a Creator

Lee Strobel was an award winning journalist with the Chicago Tribune. Both he and his wife were atheist. That changed when his wife announced that she had accepted Jesus Christ as her personal savoir. Strobel set out to examine the evidence and prove she was wrong. He found out that the evidence actually pointed towards Christianity, and Strobel himself became a Christian. His experiences trying to prove Christianity wrong were set down in his first book, The Case for Christ. This book is his third in the series. In it, he examines the latest scientific evidence to see if science supports the theory of a personal Creator, or rejects it in favor of other theories such as the one purposed by Charles Darwin.

The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God is broken into a series of interviews with an assortment experts in various scientific fields. I am constantly challenged to discuss my positions on global warming with scientist and academics. Mr. Strobel has done just that with this book. He examines some of the latest discoveries in biochemistry, DNA, astronomy, cosmology, physics, and the consciousness. His discussions are with current professors and research scientist in each of the fields. At the end of each chapter, Mr. Strobel includes a list of other works if the reader wishes to dig deeper.

Two of the arguments I was most impressed with in this book involve fossils and cellular biology. When Darwin purposed his original theory of evolution, he knew that the fossil record didn’t support his argument. He was aware of the explosion of life recorded through fossils during the Cambrian period. Darwin believed that discoveries made in later years would reveal fossils that showed intermediate stages leading up to this period. Instead, discoveries made since Darwin have shown there was a much greater explosion of life than Darwin thought, and the intermediate stages he predicted have still not been discovered. If the theory of evolution is correct, we should have seen a progressive series of fossils leading up to the Cambrian period. Instead, a wide range of life simply appears with no prior fossil record.

Darwin also provided his own test that would refute his theory. Darwin stated, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” Unfortunately for Darwin and his present day supporters, that is exactly what has happened. In his book, Mr. Strobel discusses this with Dr. Michael J. Behe. Dr. Behe shows that microscopic entities such as the moving cilium and the bacterial flagellum cannot possibly be formed from, “…numerous, successive, slight modifications.”

If Darwin’s theory of evolution can’t account for life on Earth today, then what can? After reading The Case for a Creator, the latest scientific evidence points towards a unique, timeless, personal Creator. Far from faith and science clashing in our society today, they actually complement each other.

I would recommend this book to all of my readers who believe there is no God in the Universe. While faith can never be scientifically proven, it can’t be disproven either. And if we are to practice legitimate science, we have to look for conclusions that fit all of the scientific evidence. In today’s scientific world, that evidence fits the Creator.


BunGirl said...

Adding both books to my tbr (to be read) list. Great post!

Anonymous said...

Andy, I am completely convinced that the universe is God's creation.

But I simply cannot figure out how to make that core belief of mine at all conflict with natural science, including evolution, the Big Bang, etc.

Maybe we read the Bible differently. The creation account in Genesis was never intended to be a "scientific" account of the origins of the universe. Science as we know it didn't exist when Genesis was written. The creation account in the bible is an ingenious twist on the older Bablyonian creation narrative that sounds a lot like Genesis, except that, in the Bablyonian version, the earth is created out of the corpse of a murdered god's dead body, and the creation itself is cursed and "bad."

The Jewish people tweaked the popular Babylonian story so that it was largely the same, and yet, in the Jewish version, the earth was created out of water and God's (nonviolent) word, and the entire creation was repeatedly named as "good."

That's pretty significant for me: the universe is created by God's gentle and strong word as a gift and a delight, and the whole thing is "good"--something to be treasured. I think focusing on the fossil record to disprove evolution entirely misses the most important stuff. Plenty of people still have a "Babylonian" approach to the creation--treating the planet like its a corpse we can plunder.

Anonymous said...

How do you know the Jewish version is wrong? Try looking at the two versions, without thinking about "science". Which one makes more sense? If you are willing to believe that science is failable, you won't have a problem with the Genesis account and modern science.

Which really takes more faith, that life evolved, with just the right events happening at just the right time, or that God created life?

You have to focus on the fossil record to prove or disprove evolution because there is absolutely no other way to prove it. And, the fossil record indicates that evolution did not happen.

Anonymous said...

Saint, your reaction shows our different approaches.

I think the Jewish version of creation is "right"--I just don't think it's trying to do science. It's doing something much bigger than science.

Example: I think the psalm is correct in saying "The Lord is my shepherd," but I do not therefore believe that my Lord must herd wooly animals. I think the Psalm is doing something more than scientifically naming the 9-to-5 job that the messiah holds.

Also, if you like "creationism" because it's harder to believe and therefore requires more faith, then why not believe that the earth is actually a kidney stone lodged in a blue ox's urethra? Now that would take some faith!

The odd thing is that I'm defending the basic stance that most Christians held until modern science made a really dumb demand: "relegate God to the realm of opinion and feeling and let science tell you what the world is like." The correct response would have been to tell scientists that while they offer one really important lens on the world, theology offers an important lens, too--to many of us, the most meaningful lens. But in my reading, what fundamentalists have done is to try to turn theology into a modern science (that's a good definition of fundamentalism).

The idea of an inerrant pope and inerrant bible both arose at about the same time--partly as a response to science's own claims to inerrancy. The religious fundamentalists were arguing with--but still basically imitating--the scientific fundamentalists. I'm interested in non-fundamentalist science and religion.

Andy D said...

Anon, I am very, very confused by your post.

I think the vast majority of Christians recognize that there are elements of history and elements of "parable" type stories in the Bible. I don't think any Christian reads Psalm 23 and thinks that God is suppose to tend actual sheep in the field.

Having studied both science and religion, I think what you describe does happen many times. Many clergy (and many scientist) believe that their particular views only describe one element of the Universe. There are exceptions on both sides. The scientist in this book believe that scientific discoveries have reinforced the case for a Creator.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand. You think the Jewish version is right, but you say it is an ingenious twist on the Bablyonian account?

Just to clarify my stance: I believe the Bible is correct, as written. People, including the authors of the Bible are most definitely failable. However, I believe the Bible was writen under "God's Direction" and is therefore correct. I believe the world was created in 6 days (24 hrs long each) and on the 7th day He rested. I do understand that the Bible contains historical information as well as parables.

With that said, I like science. I think scientist are right on a lot of things, and that the two go hand and hand, not at odds. But, I believe a lot of scientific people overlook the evidence that points toward Creationism. I think if more people would do a scientific research, with open minds, they would see the evidence really does point toward a Creator, and not evolution.

I think you misunderstood something in my earlier post, it takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does creationism.

And I am a fundamentalist.

familyman said...

OK, I was going to try to stay out of this one, but here goes.

I actually have to say that in a way I respect Saint's position on this more than anonymous'.

At least Saint stands by the writings that are the basis of his faith.

As for Anon's approach, I understand the desire to make the text work within the constructs of the modern world by saying, "Well this or that part is metaphor." or "Well they talk about killing disobedient children, but that was 2000 years ago." But, if you are going to start picking and choosing which parts of the Bible you are going to believe literally and which parts you are going to take as metaphor, then you might as well just be making up your own religion.

The Bible was written by late stone age and early bronze age people. It was written to explain things they couldn't even come close to understanding yet. Science as we know it didn't even exist yet. When they said God made the world in 6 days, that's what they meant. People who look at the Bible through the prism of modern society and try to soften it up so as not to offend our modern sensibilities are looking at it in a way that the writers never could have conceived of.

Anonymous said...

The way I read the Bible is no stretch. It's similar to the way rational people read the newspaper. You read the front page as a certain type of literature. You read the op-ed page in a different way. If you tried to read the political cartoons (a type of writing very similar to the book of revelation) in the same way you read the front page, you'd end up with a very mistaken impression of what the author meant... you'd get a reading of "the news" much like the "Left Behind" people.

Familyman respects Saint for reading all of the books and types of literature in the same way. He's been taught that that's the right way to read the Bible. Again, this is a recent phenomenon. Pre-modern cultures would have thought is was crazy to actually go *looking* for the "floodgates of heaven" that the book of Genesis mentions. But they certainly had a deep and poetic way of knowing reality. Most modern people have lost that way of knowing the universe, or, at best, think it's quaint.

Again, the question of whether or not the universe is good and worth being cared for is *much more important* than whether it was created in so many days (days that didn't exist of course until the Sun was created and the earth was rotating on its axis).

familyman said...

Anonymous - you may be right about some of that. My "history of the Bible: knowledge is not that extensive. But it made me smile to have Revelations compared to a political cartoon)

But to the point of the book - Is there a case for a creator. And the even bigger question - What is that creator like?

If God is perfect and the Bible is the inspired word of God why would he leave us with such an imperfect and confusing book?

Why if God is all powerful and compassionate did he need to send his son to be murdered in order for us to be forgiven? Why not just be compassionate and forgive us? Human sacrifice is pretty barbaric wouldn't you say?

If I stood by and watched a woman get raped or a child get beaten by it's parent and did nothing to stop it I could be thrown in Jail and I would be despised as a terrible uncaring person. Yet God stands by and watches tens of thousands of rapes and murders and child abuses every day without lifting a finger. And people praise him.??

Obviously there are many questions about the origin of the Universe and the meaning of it all that we don't understand. That science can't yet answer. It seems to me that our current scientific knowledge is still infinitesimal compared to the mysteries of the cosmos and so people still feel the need for this anthropomorphic God to fill in the gap.

To say "If Darwin’s theory of evolution can’t account for life on Earth today, then what can?" And then to conclude that it must be an invisible magical man who knows everything and burns people he decides aren't worthy of his love, is silly.

Anonymous said...

Anon, I'm going to have to disagree with you. The origins of the universe are as important, if not more, than whether you think man made global warming is going to destroy it. If it was created by God, it is worth protecting. However, if it is a fluke that we are even here, what does it matter what we do? To me, this is the foundation of so much. Life itself loses meaning if we are an accident.

As far as my reading of the bible, maybe more people should try it "my way". The bible is full of parables and metaphors. It's also full of history, and that's where most people have problems. As far as Revelations, that's not a political cartoon which expresses one individuals opinion, it's a prophecy. Big difference. The Left Behind series is opinion based on their interpetations. I do not support or disagree with the books, haven't read them. But, if you read the Bible to be true, as many of us do, Revelations is more than opinion.

Familyman - though you don't agree with my position, I appreciate your respect, and agree with you on watering down faith. You said it very nicely.

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